Book Review: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

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Title: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Author: Heidi W. Durrow

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: A

Recommended?: Yes


    The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was not on the top of my priority list when I absently snatched it up at the library, but it turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year (so far.) It wasn’t hard to read and definitely not hard to get into but it was beautifully written, with characters who will stick with me for a long time. The novel tells the story of a adolescent girl named Rachel, who loses her mother and siblings in an incident so traumatic she has trouble remembering what happened.


She expects her estranged father to take her in, but instead she is adopted by her grandmother and dropped into a totally different environment from the one she had lived in before. Rachel is biracial and her grandmother (her dad’s mother) is black, and almost all other people in the community are black too. Rachel has trouble fitting in being racially mixed (and considering herself to be white and thus slightly superior) and gets picked on by her peers. Meanwhile, a boy from her old neighborhood named Brick runs away from his drug addict mother and struggles through a hellish existence on the streets. He spent time with Rachel’s dad shortly after the tragedy and despite his own suffering, can’t get her or the promise he made to her father out of his mind.


Race plays a big part in The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, and sometimes I felt the author brought up racial issues too often when it wasn’t exactly relevant, like she needed to remind the reader (and herself) that it was one of the book’s major themes. However, the subject was handled in a refreshingly unique and unsentimental way and there were a lot of more components to the story than the protagonist’s identity as a mixed-race person. Another thing that plays a big role in this book is significance of family relationships in a person’s life, especially in their formative years. I love how morally ambiguous the members of Rachel’s troubled family are, as well as most of the other characters in the novel.


Even though my favorite character was Brick, I was impressed all around by how well-developed and believable all the leads were. I appreciated how even though it was often easy to sympathize with Rachel, she had her share of faults and was downright frustrating at times. I felt sorry for her that she was being ostracized by her classmates, especially after all the trauma she had been through, but at the same time it was understandable that these kids didn’t like being looked down on by a judgmental outsider.


We follow Rachel from childhood to the time she becomes a young woman, and throughout frequent clashes with her grandmother and a pervading sense of isolation. Feelings of isolation and not being understood certainly aren’t unusual for kids traversing through the tricky experience of growing up, so even though Rachel’s circumstances are extraordinary, her childhood feelings of loneliness and being singled out by the people around her certainly aren’t. I’m looking forward to reading whatever Heidi W. Durrow comes up with next, and I hope my review influences people to read this review and that they get as much out of the book as I did.

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